Orange Fizz


Oronde Gadsden’s Next Step

In 2021, Oronde Gadsden caught two passes for a grand total of 24 yards. Fast forward to 2022, and Gadsden ballooned those numbers to 61 grabs for 969 yards.

Former offensive coordinator Robert Anae fell in love with him, and for good reason. The 6’5 216 pounder lined up in every formation you can imagine last year-in-line tight end, the backfield, slot receiver. You name a spot on the field, he probably started a play from scrimmage there.

The all-ACC “tight end” was particularly effective out of the slot, drawing bracket double teams from slot corners who were too small for him and safeties who weren’t athletic enough to keep up.

The size and athleticism are certainly there for Gadsden. He’s a terrific route runner with good hands, although he’ll tell you he’d like them to be even better. At the collegiate level, he’s unrecoverable out of the slot. The one thing that he hasn’t done in what’s turning into an outstanding SU career is work consistently and effectively on the outside.

There’s a massive difference between operating inside the numbers versus outside. For starters, the better, bigger, more athletic corners are on the outside, which means, should he be in that situation, Gadsden will have a tougher matchup than he was used to last year on an individual basis.

Plus, there’s the issue of the sideline. In the middle of the field, Gadsden’s route running ability is enhanced by the fact that he has plenty of space to move and all kinds of different directions to cut in. There isn’t that same real estate when playing on the outside.

Throughout the history of football, all the best receivers-at any level-have proven themselves working on the boundary. For Gadsden to make a big impression on NFL scouts, he needs to do the same.

The issue he runs into is just how good he is out of the slot. He’s impossible to cover one-on-one in the middle of the field. A defense has to occupy a safety with him, which means that, even if Gadsden doesn’t get open, it puts less pressure on the rest of the receivers.

Also, it has to do with Garrett Shrader. The biggest flaw in his improving game is still the arm strength. Throwing the ball with pace to the perimeter, especially with college football’s wide hashes, is not his strong suit. Having Gadsden working in the middle of the field is much more suitable to his passing style.

Throughout spring practice and the spring game, Gadsden was almost exclusively in the slot. Isaiah Jones, Damien Alford and D’Marcus Adams are the receivers who worked on the perimeter with Gadsden operating inside. He’s lethal there, but, for his own sake, it would be beneficial to have the opportunity to prove himself on the outside. Plus, it would make him that much less predictable, only helping Syracuse’s offense in its first year under Jason Beck.

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.


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